How Pre-Workout Supplements Are Slowing You Down

November 26, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Nutrition Videos

If you've ever visited a nutrition or supplement store, you've been bombarded with advertisements for the latest and greatest pre-workout supplements. At one time or another, you might have parted with some hard-earned cash to see what all the fuss was about.

As expected, the first time you tried it, the supplement probably gave you an initial boost, supercharging your central nervous system and leading to a great workout. (Find out which supplements are safe.) But eventually—three, five or 10 workouts down the line—that initial feeling wore off, and you were forced to double or even triple the dose to get close to the same "high" you first experienced.

With continued use, many athletes inevitably get to the point where they feel that they can't work out without their pre-workout supplement. Then, a vicious cycle begins, where they need a stimulant just to feel normal and get through the work day and their daily gym session or practice.

The problem with stimulants, which are found in many pre-workout supplements, is that you're trading off a temporary high for the inevitable low that comes later, overworking your adrenal glands in the process. High doses of caffeine and stimulants such as 1,3 dimethylamylamine prevent your adrenal glands from ever truly getting a break, to the point where your mood, energy levels and sports performance suffer.

At the extreme, numerous reports linking stimulants in energy drinks to deaths have been leading newscasts across North America over the last few weeks. (I'm looking at you Monster and 5-Hour Energy.)

Some days, a caffeine boost may be necessary, but in most cases you can feel just as energized by taking care of your body and letting it perform as intended.

Alternatives to Stimulants

Proper Nutrition. Give your body the fuel it needs through proper nutrition, with balanced meals preceding and following exercise. A balanced approach includes equal amounts lean protein (fish, chicken breast) and quality carbohydrates (quinoa, oatmeal, rice), with a salad and a small amount of olive oil. It's also best to eat or drink 100 calories of fast-acting carbs, such as a banana or Gatorade Prime, 15 minute before your workout. (Learn more about pre-workout nutrition.)

Sleep. Stimulant use, especially later in the day, can cut into your sleep duration and quality. Cut all stimulants after 5:00 p.m., and aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.

Tea. One or two cups of coffee a day is fine, but a good alternative is tea, especially later in the day. It has a quarter of the caffeine and is loaded with healthy antioxidants. My personal favorite is green tea.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 152,830
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,325
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,268,862
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,536,765
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,117,693
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,437
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,240
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,332

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

Supplement companies are like meteorologists. If what they say is true about half the time, nobody makes a fuss. But if you're a regular consumer of...

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

Why Basketball Players Should Ditch Energy Drinks

Why Basketball Players Should Ditch Energy Drinks

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

Should I Take Creatine?

Should I Take Creatine?

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Soy vs. Whey Protein

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

What is Casein Protein?

What is Casein Protein?

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

YardBarker